Sunday, June 2, 2013

Demonic Cases: Roman Catholic Norms We Go By

by Michael Chapman

Those of us within the team who lead cases of suspected demonic attachment are all devoted Roman Catholics who regularly partake of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession. As Roman Catholics who faithfully adhere to the authority and teaching Magisterium of the Church, we reach a conclusion or diagnosis in a case only after a careful, thorough investigation using proper guidelines and protocol methodologies. We approach all cases that are potentially diabolical in nature by strictly following the Code of Cannon Law of the Roman Catholic Church (for specifics see the bottom of this page). The following are the possible levels of demonization (demonic attachment), should a case be genuine, from the least serious to the most serious:

1. Infestation (an object, a home or a business)
2. Oppression (harassment, usually associated with #1)
3. Obsession (depression, obsessive thoughts, etc.)
4. Possession (voluntary and involuntary)

Proper discernment in these cases is absolutely critical, yet often difficult, due to the fact that some forms of physical, pharmacological, and psychological maladies and disorders can manifest symptoms and behaviors very similar to genuine demonization. To further complicate matters sometimes a case will have a combination of these factors concurrent with genuine attachment. The affected individual must be willing to offer full disclosure of his spiritual, vocational, medical, psychological, and family of origin histories, as well as others as needed. These are necessary and help us reach a cogent etiology (cause).  

Should a case include genuine demonic attachment, we are authorized and encouraged by the Catholic Church to pray for and assist those in each of the levels above. After a careful and diligent investigation (including examinations by a physician and a psychiatrist or psychologist) we decide that the individual is suffering from demonic possession, then we attempt to refer the case to a Priest or a Bishop. We do NOT perform the solemn rite of exorcism - which is called by the Church "public" exorcism. ("An exorcism is considered "public" when an authorized person using an approved rite does it in the name of the Church. A "private" exorcism is not bound by the same constraints and may be celebrated by any of the faithful." - Fr. Jeffrey Grob, mandated exorcist, Archdiocese of Chicago). Use of the solemn rite can only be done by a mandated exorcist with permission from his Bishop. This does not mean however, that laity cannot pray for and aid individuals who are demonized, whatever the level.

The faithful have both a duty and responsibility to aid suffering individuals, which is clear from the study of sacred scripture as well as a very careful scrutiny of Church law and norms: "These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons..." (Mark 16:77). In these issues of authority and power, wisdom as well as humility must be employed, with the goal of serving Christ in helping suffering individuals from a ministerial point of view, as the bottom line in such efforts. MOST cases are NOT diabolical to begin with, and even if so, only rise to a level of infestation, oppression, or obsession (these are certainly serious cases). Genuine demonic possession is extremely rare. (The Vatican estimates that only 1 out of every 5,000 cases they investigate turns out to be a genuine case of possession.) Most of the time the cases we investigate are caused by, or are a combination of: an over-active imagination; side-effects of, or the use of pharmaceutics or drugs (whether prescription or illegal); fraud or deception; suggestion or auto-suggestion; embellishment or exaggeration; psychological issues or disorders; a disembodied human spirit, or some combination of the above. 

On occasion however, cases do turn out to be serious, and are usually genuine cases of lesser demonic attachment to some degree or the other (1-3 above). In such cases, our investigation helps uncover the reason(s) for what is causing the issue, and we offer guidance, assistance, counsel, education, prayer, and blessings to those affected. We have successfully handled many such cases, but the key to success is the willingness of the afflicted person to help himself or herself, and do (and be) what is necessary. In such a case, we are only coming alongside to help and guide. It is normally our practice to also have the affected individual or family to visit with and receive the blessings and counsel of a Priest (or clergy if Protestant) in all suspected genuine demonic cases no matter what level, due to his Holy Orders as a Priest. This visit works in conjunction with our effort and priority to have the individual understand the critical need to return to regular attendance and membership in an active, genuine Christian faith community. In nearly every case of genuine demonic attachment we have seen, the person has been isolated and is not going to Church on a regular basis...most have not been in years. Thus, they have little or no spiritual cover or protection that is offered through our Lord Jesus Christ. There is a reason Christ established His Church on earth before ascending to the Father. The importance of being active in a Church that is doctrinally sound and faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be understated. Unless one is already a devotee in a Church with a true belief and profession of the Trinitarian expression of Christian faith, then our strong and firm belief that the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church as being the fullest expression of the faith, will result in the Roman Catholic Church being the one we will recommend to you first.

Even after the visit to clergy, we continue to work with the individual and family as needed. Sometimes, cases can result in many months of ongoing work, counsel and prayer. Unfortunately, not all clergy - Catholic or Protestant - believe in demons as personified, diabolical beings who are evil fallen angels: created good, but they rebelled against God. However, this IS the consistent, clear teaching of the Catholic faith which it has held from its beginnings until today. This teaching is absolutely unquestionable and undeniable. It is critical and important to understand and accept that personified, diabolical evil exists, and is described clearly enough in sacred Scripture as well as the teaching Magisterium of the Church. Satan, demons and diabolical evil is NOT a mere literary device or some "metaphor" for all things bad. To hold the view that personal evil beings who are fallen angels bent on our destruction do not exist, is a grave and severe mistake. For those outside of the Church, it is simply a false understanding of reality. For those within Christianity, it is a failure of faithfulness to the clear teachings and doctrines of the Church. What is worse, when this error is held by clergy or a priest, it is a failure to have what is necessary to provide proper ministerial and pastoral care for those affected by such evil - those they are called to be Christ to. It is true that one cannot and must not "blame the Devil" for one's sins - and one must take personal responsibility for his or her own poor and sinful choices. It is also very important to approach this area with balance and not extremism - avoiding absolute incredulity on the one hand, and seeing demons under every rock and tree on the other. Much of the time, we help the afflicted individual handle and oversee this extraordinary issue, even from a distance, while the Church fills the role in that individual's life that was described above.

NOTE: The affected person must have the desire and willingness to make the changes in their life that are necessary to get free. In serious cases, you will be asked to undergo a physical examination with a review of your medical history by our physician, as well as a psychological evaluation and history by our psychologist or psychiatrist. Our law enforcement officer may also conduct a background check on you, simply to verify you are who you say you are. Those who truly want and need help, should be happy to undergo this absolutely necessary protocol. Most psychologists and physicians who work with us can help you with a sliding fee scale for those who do not have sufficient funds. We are a team of older, mature professionals who take this work very seriously and with the care of those we are helping foremost in our minds.

The Main Roman Catholic Law, Rites & Documents We Faithfully Adhere To:
Code of Canon Law - 1983, especially c. 1172 (the most relevant canon to our work)

Inde Ab Aliquot Annis, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Sep 29, 1984

1998 Rite of Exorcism, Roman Ritual, (De exorcismis et supplicationibus quibusdam - editio typica 1999) [Especially the 38 Introductory Praenotanda (general norms) of the Rite. The Praenotanda specifically prohibit laity (us) to perform solemn, we do not perform exorcisms! That's the whole point of adhering to these guidelines...that is only for a mandated Priest or Bishop to do.]

Instructions on Prayers for Healing, Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Sep 14, 2000

Christian Faith and Demonology; Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, June 26, 1975

Sacrosanctum concilium, The Constitution on the Divine Liturgy, Vatican II, Dec 4, 1963

Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, October 15, 1989

Catechesis of the Catholic Church: Second Edition, Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults: Study Edition, National Conference of Catholic Bishops

Other Publications Regularly Consulted:The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, IV Edition, American Psychiatric Association

Our team includes Law Enforcement professionals; Medical Care professionals, a Master's Level Professor, Church Catechists, an I.T. Specialist, and an R.N. (Registered Medical Nurse)...we also have access to a Medical Doctor and a Psychologist to help us with diagnosis in difficult cases.

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